Internet Marketing Tips, Suggestions, & Ramblings

Why Thinking in Buckets Improves SEO ROI and Decision Making

In search marketing we spend a lot of time talking about keywords. But once you reach a certain level you stop focusing on individual keywords and instead think more about a diversified portfolio. Think of it like your investment portfolio where you have different types of securities. You have individual stocks, mutual funds, bonds, a money market account and maybe some CDs. Each of those areas make up part of your overall wealth.

In the case of keywords, each website has keyword groups or buckets. These buckets are grouped based on similar themes. By analyzing the themes and the ROI of each theme we can make better decisions on keyword groups to build pages for, links to, etc. So that is the premise of this blog, now let’s jump into specifics. As a side note, you could take this up a level and make buckets for all of your online traffic (social, email, PPC, etc). You could even take it up further and look at your overall marketing picture, but for the purposes of this post we will stay granular and focus on organic SEO keyword traffic. Although I am more of a big picture guy myself… 

Common Keyword Buckets

First, let’s take a look at some common keyword buckets. Next, we will determine ways to analyze and use the data, but before we do, we need to recognize that all keywords fall into two main buckets and then there are smaller and smaller buckets under each. This is great because you can get as granular as you want. The top buckets are branded and non-branded terms.

  • Branded Terms: Terms surrounding your business or your businesses’ own branded products.
  • Non-Branded Terms: Pre-existing terms that categorize or describe your product.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, here are some common type of keywords that fall under the different segments.

Branded

  • Company name
  • Names or products made by your company

Non-Branded

Brand Keywords: Keywords that relate to the brands of products a site may offer. For example, a hockey ecommerce site may sell Bauer, Rebook and Nike equipment.

Location Keywords: Keywords that are specific to a location, such as hockey skates San Diego.

Product Level Keywords: Optimization for specific products such as Bauer 1134 Hockey Skates.

Category Based Keywords: Optimization for general category information. An example would be Hockey  Helmets.

SEO Keywords: Sometimes certain keywords do not really fit with one of the larger themes of the site. If this is the case many times an information page will be made. We throw this info into a general SEO keyword bucket.

Keyword Buckets for SEO

Why is this Bucket Approach to Optimization Powerful

Today, it is all about analytics and proving the value of your efforts. With analytics and other reporting platforms we can see the following metrics for each of these buckets.

  • Visits
  • Revenue
  • Transactions
  • Average Value
  • Per Visit Value
  • E-commerce Conversion Rate

We can look at this data for each segment and review the performance over the last quarter as well as the last year. We look at the last year as well due to seasonal fluctuation in traffic and revenue.

Let’s take a look at what an example would look like.

Sample Ecommerce Site

Brand Keywords

  • Visits: 33,000
  • Revenue: $20,000
  • Transactions: 1,000
  • Average Value: $20
  • Per Visit Value: .66
  • Ecommerce Conversion Rate .03

When we are able to look at this data in comparison to the past month and the past year, we are able to determine our loss or gain for the keyword group as a whole. Furthermore, when we have these numbers for each group of keywords on the website we can see where the most value lies in our organic keyword portfolio. With this information we can make decisions on which keywords to invest more in.

Why Average Ranking and Number of Top Ranking Keywords Matters

One final component is comparing the analytics to average ranking position of the keyword bucket. Why is this important? Well, if we know that our average ranking position across the bucket or segment is 44, we know that we have more opportunity to improve traffic and revenue for the segment when relating it to another segment that may have a average ranking position of 10. Furthermore, if we are aware that one segment has 1,000 out of 1,500 keywords ranking in the top 20 we may want to focus on another segment that has 300 out of 1,500 keywords ranking in the top 20, especially if revenue numbers are similar or simply fuel the decision making.

Don’t Forget to Account for Outliers!

When looking at an statistical analysis it is critical to account for outliers. Outliers that are way outside the mean can completely throw off your decision making. Consider this, you have a segment where almost none of the keywords rank above page 5. However, you have one money keyword that ranks number one and drives $20,000 in revenue a month. Without taking this into account it could throw off your entire decision making process. Because of this, it is important to have a top keywords report as well and utilize this information in your aggregate evaluation.

Final Thoughts on Buckets

“Buckets” is really just a term that is interchangeable with keyword segments. But the first step of any good SEO campaign is to determine what those buckets are. Those buckets are all of the inbound search opportunities for users to find your website. It is important to have strong knowledge of what the buckets are for your site and how you can use different forms of analytics data to support more profitable SEO decision making.

What are your thoughts on buckets and keyword segments? Leave a comment below!

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for Homepage.com, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee, Entrepreneur.com., Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.